Aoife Walsh: 'Leaving Cert students should have a plan for the Easter break - and that includes rest'
The Easter holidays are upon us. Once school re-opens after the break, students are facing an extremely short term of only four weeks. Traditionally, Leaving Cert students are released from school earlier than others, so they may be back for only three weeks.
There are two issues that arise for me and my students at this time of year. Firstly, making the most of study for the last number of weeks and, perhaps related to this, should they spend the time at home to maximise their learning?
Regardless of how much work a student has managed to do so far, it is essential to use the time remaining to maximise revision and learning. Now that the orals and most of the practical exams are over, the focus is moving to the written papers in June. Some of the following may seem a little basic, but in my experience, neglecting the basics causes us to create unhelpful habits and prevents us from achieving our goals.
Leaving Cert students are at the end of a long term and a long two years. Rest is essential to get through this marathon, so you should take advantage of this two-week break to catch up on sleep, exercise, friends and family. Balance is key to success at Leaving Cert - burnout will help no one. Obviously, study and revision are essential, but a little time for rest and relaxation will pay dividends.
Getting work done first thing in the morning when the brain is well rested will be much easier on you than trying to memorise and learn after a six-hour school day. Take full advantage.
Have a plan
Although two weeks can seem like a very long break, it will disappear quickly if you don't stay focused.
You should set short, medium and long-term goals for the break and check every day to see if you are on track. Now is the perfect time to catch up on any subjects in which you feel you have fallen behind, as well as to complete tasks that are just too difficult to do after a long day in school, such as writing essays or completing test papers.
You should keep lists and visual prompts of where you are in your study plan and take a moment at the end of every day to note what has been achieved. This will keep you motivated.
Finally, you should plan the next study session before finishing for the day.
This way you can begin doing productive work immediately on your return to your work station and will not have to waste time deciding what to study next.
Stay in school
Whatever you do, do not stop attending school after Easter. There are massive benefits to continuing to go to school. Yes, your teachers may be focusing more and more on revision, but this will allow you to pick up hints and tips and to fill gaps in your knowledge, which will work towards gaining every extra per cent available.
Additionally, school will offer opportunities to focus on life away from exams, to see your friends and to participate in end-of-year events and sports.
This will all add to your school memories as well as offer a welcome relief to stress and make your study more productive and efficient.
Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin.
Q My son does not want to go to college in September. He is thinking of joining the Defence Forces. What are the options?
A Now is a great time of year to explore options for work and training. In general, it is not a good idea for a young person to walk into further or higher education courses or training without a passion for what they wish to study.
Whether a young person wishes to enlist to begin a career or gain opportunities for personal development, both the Army and Naval Service are currently recruiting for general services and reserves. Applicants must be at least 18.
Other opportunities that come up from time to time in the Defence Forces include general service in the Air Corps and apprenticeships.
The cadetship also recruits from time to time. This is the entry route for officer training. The requirements for entry are in line with those for the NUI universities, which includes a European language.
The Defence Forces are not currently recruiting cadets, however membership of the reserves would be looked upon favourably in such a competition.